If you are working at consulting business, it is very important to know required skills that will put you at the front of others in the field. IT consultants who are working with leading organizations have opportunities to delve into many client enterprises. They are lucky to meet leaders at those organizations. They work in large ecosystems that comprise a lot of different skill, different people, and different backgrounds. In order to excel within this ecosystem, IT consultants need to combine major five types of skills. This post will summarize those skills illustrating their benefits in various contexts.
1. Functional and Technical Skills
Often IT consultants are found to be very good in technical skills due to their educational and academic background. However, I find that most of them lack a broader functional and domain knowledge. Strong domain knowledge and keeping abreast of industry best-practices is vital.
What clients look for: An IT consultant should possess strong domain knowledge of client’s business processes along with an understanding of the enterprise-wide architecture. The consultant should be able to leverage this understanding, along with the industry best-practices, to provide best-of-breed solutions to the client. IT consultant without fair base of functional and architecture knowledge will not provide proper solutions to clients.
2. Communication (Oral & Written):
Communication is one of the most fundamental (and powerful) skills of a good IT consultant. Well-honed oral and written communication skills are vital building blocks that lay the foundation for the consultancy skillset.
What clients look for: A consultant should utilize his communication skills, along with techno-functional knowledge, to bring greater clarity to requirements definition, facilitate development and communication of robust solutions to clients, collaborate and build consensus among multiple teams (teams could include internal teams, technology partners, implementation partners and business users) and communicate risks in advance along with providing mitigating solutions.
3. Problem Solving
Critical thinking and problem solving is key to any consultant’s success. Often, each project presents unique and complex challenges. One’s ability to solve these challenges by leveraging their experience, creativity and network sets one apart as one of the most sought-after consultants.
What clients look for: An IT consultant’s ability to use critical thinking, experience, creativity and innovation and network reach to solve complex problems – thereby steering the project to success.
Outside of project management, there are several leadership opportunities within a project that a consultant can leverage to showcase one’s own leadership skills. Leadership skills are required when managing client’s requirements (during gathering, negotiating those requirements, resolving conflict among stakeholders).
What clients look for: An IT consultant’s ability to propose a solution to a given problem, take ownership and lead its execution to success.
5. Networking and Relationship Management
I found this skill the most ignored one. IT consultants from their technical background used to be solitary creatures. They focus on the issue they have trying to find solutions for it. In the current economy, business and professional networking has emerged as one of the leading consulting skills that an IT consultant should possess. It is not enough to provide a solution for the client for one time, repeating the business is also very important for continued success.
What clients look for: An IT Consultant’s ability to leverage his network to identify potential project risks and propose possible solutions to complex project problems.
For success in IT consulting as a career, a consultant must adopt these traits and continually sharpen the associated skills.
These skills – along with strong professional ethics – can help win the trust of a client and ensure repeat business.